Wednesday 30 April 2014
Having missed last week's outing, I enjoyed a lone trip this week, both Linda and Mary being busy. I made my way to Islington Mews, a tiny and unpromising dead end off the Pentonville Road near Angel. Unlike many of the museums we have visited so far, the entrance is not impressive. But a press on the bell produced a nice young man who pointed out that the plant pot was also a cycle rack, and asked me too close the door behind me when I came in. I noticed when I left that the door has fierce labels saying 'do not slam the door' and 'do not touch the scaffolding pole' which may say something about the stability of the building.
The Cubitt complex is mainly a set of studios for artists, but there is also a simple two room Gallery. The pictures come from the Cubitt website as I did not feel it appropriate to wield the camera in a gallery space without permission.
The current offering is called 'The Shape of a Right Statement'. It takes the form of two screens, one small and one large, showing monochrome 'home movies' of the American artist, Cynthia Maughan. She tries to adjust a scarf to hide the marks on her neck; she displays a coffin made out of 850 toothpicks with a shrouded skeleton inside; there is a man standing by an open refrigerator. Then there is a long sequence about a blonde femme fatale. And so on. The smaller screen, also black and white, showed hands administering a dose of liquid from a medicine bottle, as well as a charming interlude called 'what if the sun fell on my corral'.
The information sheet explains that these works are 'returning to a non-linear understanding of survivalism and fascination between sincerity and manipulation'.
I was the only person in the room for the 20 minutes that the loop took to run; I also had a look at a smaller TV screen. Again, I need to refer to the notes. The artist, Wu Tsang 'seeks to insert a question mark into notions of authenticity, and the intention of the speaker.' The way he does this is by producing the words of the autism rights activism Amanda Baggs, who can be seen here.
OK, I admit it: I was baffled by the whole experience. But it was interesting, in a baffling kind of way, and I shall watch out for other exhibitions at the Cubitt Gallery, to see if I get a better grip on the next one.